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How to Make a Healthy soul food Plate — A Guide and Recipes

Soul Food is the most traditional food that is the staple food of African Americans ( 1Trusted Source).

Sometimes referred to simply by the term “Southern foods,” soul food was transported across the North and throughout the United States by African Americans who left their home in the South at the time of the Great Migration of the early to the mid-20th century.

Food options range from simple meals for the family, consisting of beans and rice along with fried chicken and collard greens, the ham hocks. Tables are filled with candied yams and smothered pork chops black-eyed peas, gumbo cornbread, macaroni, and cheese sweet potato pie along with peach cobbler.

Soul food is a fundamental part of Black food culture and frequently invokes strong memories of family, home and the feeling of being together.

This article will explain the basic concepts about soul foods, examines their health benefits of it, and offers simple suggestions to increase the nutritional value of soul food.

Is soul food healthy?

The Southern diet that is usually linked to soul food, includes organ meats cooked meats and eggs food items that are fried, fats added and sweetened drinks.

This eating habit is linked to a higher likelihood of suffering from heart disease and kidney disease, diabetes cancer, stroke as well as psychological decline ( 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), African Americans ages 18-49 are twice more likely to die of coronary heart diseases as white Americans. Black Americans ages 35-54 also are 50% more likely to develop a chance of developing elevated blood pressure than White Americans ( 4Trusted Source).

While economic and social inequalities are a major factor in the disproportionate rates of disease, however, diet choices could also play a role.

But, it does not mean that all soul food is healthy. The most nutritious dishes as well as leaves of green are the most popular soul food items.

A guide to maintaining healthy eating habits while also promoting good health

Soul food is the embodiment of numerous legacies as well as traditions and customs passed down from one generation to the next generation.

Making a healthier and healthier soul food dish doesn’t mean letting go of this rich history.

Making small changes to recipes and cooking techniques can help increase recipes’ nutritional profiles while still maintaining flavor, richness, and the richness of cultural traditions.

Make sure to eat more plant-based food

The traditional African diets are mostly plant-based and comprised of a variety of vegetables and fruits, including leafy greens okra watermelon, whole grains, and black-eyed beans ( 5Trusted Source).

In the past meat, if consumed at all was consumed in tiny quantities, and was often used as a flavoring.

A diet that is rich in plants is linked to lower body weight and a lower risk of developing diseases ( 5Trusted Source).

Additionally, a meta-analysis on those who consumed leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like collard greens Kale, turnip greens, and cabbage, revealed a 15.8 percent reduced risk of heart disease in comparison to a group of control ( 8Trusted Source).

Tips for increasing your consumption of plant foods

  • You should ensure that the majority of your meals are vegetables that aren’t starchy, like vegetables like greens tomatoes, Okra, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, turnips, and turnips.
  • Switch out meat and replace it with legumes or nuts, or seeds for your primary source of protein. Examples of these plants include beans, lentils, peanuts, and black-eyed beans.
  • Incorporate a variety of foods into your diet, including tubers and roots, including sweet potatoes, taro, pumpkin, plantain, and more.
  • Enjoy raw vegetables or nuts or seeds in lieu of high-fat foods with high sugar levels such as chips and cookies.
  • Try to include at least two vegetables on your plates, such as collard greens, roasted apples, or a pumpkin with some nuts.

Choose whole-grain cereals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that individuals create at least half of the grains they consume entire cereals ( 9Trusted Source).

Whole grains comprise the whole grain, which includes the bran and germ as well as the endosperm. They can play an essential part in weight management as well as the health of your gut, as well as prevent the development of heart disease, diabetes and pancreatic, colorectal stomach, and colorectal cancer ( 10).

Whole grains include whole brown rice, wheat Oats, sorghum, millet, and fonio. barley.

Certain soul food dishes like cheese and macaroni, cornbread along rice, come of refined grains that have had their bran, which is nutrient-dense, and germ removed in the process and are therefore less nutritious than the whole grain alternatives.

Tips for enjoying more whole grains

  • Replace refined grains with entire grain cousins. For instance, you can choose whole wheat flour in place of white flour or whole-grain cornmeal in place of determination.
  • Utilize brown rice or sorghum millet or fonio in the place of white rice.
  • When baking, substitute refined flour for whole grain flours such as Teff and whole wheat and sorghum flours.
  • Select packaged food items in which whole grains are the primary or the second item in the ingredient list.

Serve with vegetables as well as herbs and spices.

Along with processed meats with high sodium, such as ham and hocks, soul food typically includes salted salt that is seasoned as well as garlic salt along with cajun seasoning. These ingredients and spices add to the total quantity of sodium you consume.

The intake of excessive sodium is linked to the risk of higher blood pressure as well as heart disease, stroke as well as premature deaths (11, Trusted Source 12Trusted Source).

Evidence suggests that African Americans are more sensitive to the blood-pressure-lowering effects of decreased salt intake. Reduce your sodium intake can cause a 4-8 millimeter reduction in blood pressure systolic -the highest number in a measurement ( 11Trusted Source).

Foods that are seasoned with aromatic vegetables like garlic, onions, and celery, in addition to spices and herbs, not only lowers sodium levels but also enhances antioxidants and flavor ( 13Trusted Source).

Tips for replacing salt

  • Try out spicy low sodium spices like Ethiopian Berbere as well as Tunisian harissa.
  • Make use of spices and herbs instead of salt. Fresh herbs are added when you’re done cooking, and dry herbs at the beginning.
  • Buy fresh, frozen, or salt-free canned veggies, or wash the high sodium canned vegetables prior to making use of them.
  • Don’t salt your food on the table, especially prior to tasting it.
  • Create your own blend of seasonings by mixing:
    • Two teaspoons (14 grams) of black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon (5.5 grams) of cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) of the spice paprika.
    • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon (10 grams) of garlic powder
    • 1 leaf of a ground bay

Alter your cooking techniques

The cooking method and methods of cooking affect both the nutritional composition of meals and the risk of contracting diseases.

Studies of postmenopausal women’s observance have shown that postmenopausal women associate food items that are fried like fried chicken fritted fish and fried potatoes with a greater risk of all-cause death and heart-related deaths ( 14Trusted Source).

Cooking methods that use high temperatures including baking, frying, roasting, and grilling, can introduce chemicals such as the acrylamide heterocyclic amines (HCAs) along with the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

HCAs and PAHs have been linked with an increase in the chance of developing cancer. They can also increase the risk of developing diabetes ( 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

While simmering and boiling are good options to cook meats, grains, and vegetables, they can cause a loss of vitamins like vitamin Cand lutein as well as beta carotene ( 19Trusted Source).

If you choose to boil or stewing instead, you could still extract some missing nutrients by mixing the liquid that is rich in nutrients — or potlikker, into other recipes.

Tips for healthy cooking methods

  • Cut off any visible fat and clean any foods that are charred prior to eating.
  • When cooking starchy food try to achieve the golden brown color instead of dark brown or an extremely crisped exterior.
  • Marinate your meats with fresh citrus fruits or vinegar, juices, onions, herbs, and spices.
  • Steam, saute, stir fry, or blanch vegetables instead of cooking them.
  • If you simmer vegetables, make use of the nutrient-rich leftover potlikker as an ingredient in gravy or the cornbread with a sauce. You can also add the liquid to other meals.
  • Cook the meats in the microwave before finishing them off on the grill.
  • You can get rid of the deep-fryer and create your favorite recipes using baking or making use of the air fryer.
  • If you have to deep fry food items make sure you choose an oil that has the highest smoke point, like peanut, canola as well as avocado oil.

Make smart swaps

Altering recipes using healthier ingredients instead of high-calorie, high-fat or high sodium choices is an effective method to keep family traditions alive without sacrificing taste.

Simple swap ideas

  • Choose heart-healthy oils such as peanut, olive, or canola oils in lieu of solid fats like lard, which contain a lot of saturated fats.
  • Choose cheeses with reduced fat and low fat or nonfat milk, instead of full-fat dairy products and cheeses.
  • In salads, greens, and other dishes In other dishes, replace high sodium high-fat meats such as Hamhocks by smoking turkey breasts that are skinless.
  • You can swap out the marshmallows or brown sugar on yams in favor of vanilla, cinnamon, or a splash of orange juice.
  • Marinate your meats and poultry with spices and herbs instead of covering them in gravy.
  • Reduce the amount of mayonnaise by mixing half it along with nonfat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Substitute butter or lard for baked desserts that contain purees of fruit, such as applesauce.

Food is inextricably linked to emotions, celebrations, family as well as legacy and identity.

At times, you can grant yourself permission to eat your favorite foods.

If you are served multiple favorite foods, be aware of the portions you serve. A common rule of thumb is to serve non-starchy vegetables the majority on your plates, with starches taking up make up a portion of the plate as well as protein-rich foods the final portion of the plate.

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